Work in any culture is…well, work. Sometimes enjoyable. Often hard and exhausting. Sometimes challenging, more likely because of the people with whom you work rather than the work itself. That applies to any kind of work. When you are working with your God-given skills (and assuming you are doing work that is legal and moral), all work can be an act of worship. Yes, I said ALL WORK, not just if you are on staff of a ministry organization. You might spend two hours a week at church or Bible Study and get the wrong message that the other 166 hours of your week are second class compared to church stuff. An interruption to “ministry.” Lacking purpose, whether you are earning income or not. Something to endure until you one day can do something meaningful (like retire and go on the mission field). But, that is wrong. Biblically wrong. There is no “sacred/secular” division in a Christian’s life. Everyone at every level is doing sacred work. Seriously! Your time at church and in a small group is supposed to be“the stimulus to launch you out into the world—which includes the marketplace—prepared to take the hope of Jesus with you.” That’s the message I heard recently at a Work as Worship* conference. And, it is a message that is so needed in our Christian communities.
Your work is an act of worship. Your workplace (be it home, office, factory floor, school room, or road construction) is your mission field. Your work environment is where you must intentionally practice living the Christian life—in difficult situations, with challenging people, and with integrity that honors the Lord Jesus Christ. You spend a great deal of time at work but may not see how your work intersects with your faith. That’s understandable since you’ve rarely heard workplace applications in sermons or seen them in Bible Studies (unless they are written for the workplace). No wonder you don’t know how to live in your daily mission field. Foreign “missionaries” spend months preparing for their overseas “mission field,” but who is preparing you to live for Christ in your workplace mission field?
From that Work as Worship conference, I heard several truths that can lead every Christian to consider Work as Worship.
1. Work is good.
God created work in the beginning before sin entered into His world. The first thing that God instructed Adam and Eve to do was to work diligently and strategically where He placed them. Genesis 1:28; 2:15
2. Sin corrupted work.
Work got corrupted and a lot harder to do. Thorns, thistles, and lots of sweat are the norm. Genesis 3:17-23
3. Jesus makes it possible for work to be redeemed.
By grace through faith, Jesus renews us and restores our approach to work. We are free to work for God’s glory. Ephesians 1:7-10; 2:10
4. God gave us a mission.
Jesus commissioned His followers— all of them—to make disciples everywhere they go. None were on church staff or mission organizations. They were ordinary people going to work every day. Work is an avenue for fulfilling God’s mission. Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8
5. We carry Christ into our work.
We are Jesus’s ambassadors at work—in the conference room, on the factory floor, at the lunch break, on the playground, and in the kitchen. As we do our work with integrity and intentionally build relationships with our coworkers, clients or children, Jesus is intricately involved in that. Colossians 3:17, 23-24
6. God grows us through our work.
The Spirit of God uses our relationships, successes, failures, and experiences at work as a significant tool in our spiritual growth. He teaches us to have the mind of Christ at work, to treat people as Jesus did, and to grow in our jobs under His guidance. Philippians 1:3-6
7. God can do more with our work than we can imagine.
God designed work for the good of the world—not just ourselves. Our work impacts the people in our work environment, our clients, and our managers. Work provides jobs, fuels the economy, and allows culture to flourish. Matthew 13:31-33; Matthew 25:29
8. Work is worship.
Yes, our work is a mission field, a place of growth, and an avenue for impact. But, work is also worship. God gives our work purpose. He uses it to mature us. When we work, we taste the goodness of God intended for work in the beginning. 1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 22:37-39
Those are great tenets of Work as Worship. But, the next questions that come to your mind might be these. What would it look like to live out your faith in your workplace? What is legal for you to do there? How do you look at work as worship when you hate what you do? I will try to address those questions (and others you might ask) in another blog.
For now, I’ll leave you with this.
Human parents rear their children to be less dependent on them and more independent. God grows His children to be less independent and more dependent on Him. Whatever He brings into our lives that makes us more dependent upon Him is good for us.
Work is a great environment to learn that.
*The Work as Worship conference I attended was sponsored by RightNow Media @ Work.
Perspective Bible Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians (read online)
Perspective Bible Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians (download pdf)